Film reviews

Virtual Revolution – Film Review

“The revolution did happen. Just not the way people thought it would.”

Virtual Revolution, also marketed as 2047: Virtual Revolution, is a 2016 science-fiction thriller, written, directed, produced, and with music composed, by Guy-Roger Duvert. This is Duvert’s first feature film, and he has set himself something of a challenge in taking on so many roles. What there is to be gained from retaining overall creative control might be lost from lack of an external agent to cast a critical eye over the proceedings. And Virtual Revolution, whilst it’s not a terrible film, really could have benefitted from some objective external input.

Let’s start with the script. This is futuristic film noir, so I wasn’t surprised by the narration with exposition, and to be fair, there wasn’t too much of it. And I was willing to forgive the occasional clichéd reaction, such as “Well that was fun”, after the protagonist, Nash (Mike Dopud), gets beaten up and knocked down in a fight. But the rest of the script, apart from a couple of fights and a few virtual reality scenes, is incredibly static.

There is a lot – a lot – of talking across tables: between Nash and his employer Dina (Jane Badler); between Nash and his friend Morel (Maximilien Poullein); between Nash and the leader of the revolutionaries, Camylle (Kaya Blocksage); between… well, you get the idea. It seems like every time someone walks into a room they sit down at a table and have a conversation. A long conversation. Sometimes, for variety, they stand across from one another and have a conversation. But still: static.

And there seems to be, strangely, both a lot of exposition and a lot of extraneous detail within the dialogue. You’d think that ‘show, don’t tell’ would be obvious in a movie script, but apparently not so much. And this is a shame, because the idea for the story is an interesting one, even if it’s not particularly well executed.

The story – major spoilers coming up! – is that in 2047, the majority of the population spend their lives in virtual reality worlds. These people, ‘the connected’, are paid a basic universal income by the government, who want to keep them plugged in because their uncared-for real world bodies die young, and ultimately it works out cheaper than providing for an ageing population. It also keeps the masses out of trouble, because “What’s more docile than a gamer?”. The revolutionaries (or terrorists), ‘the Necromancers’, want to free the connected from what they believe is a prison, destroy the virtual universes and force everyone to return to the real world, but they are killing people in order to achieve their aim. Synternis, one of the companies that runs the virtual worlds, hires Nash to track down the Necromancers. Nash is a ‘hybrid’, someone who spends half their time online and half in the real world. Although Nash sees the connected as “derelicts”, and “vegetables wired to machines”, he questions if it’s possible to “force people into freedom? And if it is, should it be done?”.

Now, unfortunately, as potentially fascinating as this sounds, it’s not the starting point of the story, it’s the entire plot (apart from the ending, which I won’t reveal). And it takes 90 minutes for that paragraph to unravel on film, during which time there are no real thrills, no perilous quests to uncover secrets, no edge of your seat nail-biting moments, only block after block of long conversation, plus a few shoot-outs and overly dramatic punch-ups. If Nash isn’t sure what he should believe, I wasn’t sure why I should care. Ready Player One it is not!

The quality of the acting is variable. Mike Dopud as Nash seems to be trying to channel Harrison Ford, but falling somewhat short of the mark. Even so, he turns in a pretty good performance, despite not having much to work with. As a noir detective, Dopud can get away with playing manly/mysterious/moody, but the rest of the cast aren’t so lucky. There is no real flesh on the bones of these characters, and although this is partly down to some strange acting choices, it ultimately falls at the feet of Duvert, and his writing and direction. Once again, it’s a shame, because I could see what they were aiming for, they just weren’t quite getting there.

The look of the movie is the most impressive thing about it. Set in a Blade Runner-esque cityscape, as well as several virtual worlds, it has some pretty solid set designs and visual effects. But that it looks so good makes its failings all the more disappointing. As lower budget science-fiction goes, this isn’t by any means a terrible movie, but you won’t find anything new here either.

Guy-Roger Duvert’s sci-fi thriller, the recipient of over 40 awards, including Best Film at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards and Best Feature at Dragon Con, makes its premiere on VOD today (12 June). Check out the trailer below: 

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